Monday, 12 March 2018

:: COLUMN :: The top 10 endometriosis myths debunked!

Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2FVlStw

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


1. Endometriosis is when endometrium is found growing outside of the uterus
False! Many resources will tell you that endometriosis is when endometrium (the mucous membrane that lines the inside of the uterus) is found growing outside of this area. This is incorrect. Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found growing outside of the womb, usually in the pelvis, although it can be found anywhere in the body.

2. Isn’t endometriosis just a bad period?
False! Menstruation is defined as “when blood and tissue come out of your vagina” and is a natural process that all women will experience as their bodies physically mature. Any discomfort should go after the 3-8 day period. Endometriosis is a painful, chronic, gynaecological disease that affects 1 in 10 women. The pain of endometriosis can correlate with the menstrual cycle and this is where confusion can be caused. But, it may also be experienced at other times during your cycle including during or after sex, internal examinations, ovulation and bladder/bowel movements.

3. Painful periods are normal!
False! We cannot get away from the old beliefs that period pain is “normal”, or that it’s “in our heads” or to “get on with it”, because it’s a part of “being a woman”. Period pain should never interfere with your daily life. If it does, then it isn’t normal.

4. Endometriosis can be cured!
False! There is no cure for endometriosis. Pregnancy and hormonal treatments will suppress the symptoms of endometriosis but they will not eradicate the disease and symptoms will usually return. Some women may only experience symptoms of endometriosis post childbirth. Endometriosis can even still occur past menopause. Surgery can be performed to remove endometriosis but endometriosis can still return.

Hysterectomy is most commonly reported as a cure for endometriosis, but, it isn’t. However, endometrial tissue can also grow in the muscle layers of the wall of the womb (adenomyosis), and the only way to eradicate this is via hysterectomy.

5. I tried this treatment and it worked for me so it will definitely work for you!
False! It is always worth trying every single treatment option that is suggested to you; whether that be surgery, hormonal treatments, pain relief, dietary changes, exercise, etc. But because endometriosis occurs so differently in each and every one of us, is situated in different areas, causes different symptoms, and because our bodies are all so different too, the same treatments will always have different results.

6. You’re too young to have endometriosis!
False! Teenagers and women in their 20’s are not too young to have endometriosis! Endometriosis symptoms may start to arise during the teenage years but is often set aside by medical professionals as girls not knowing their bodies yet. This then leads to a later diagnosis in their 20’s or 30’s.

7. I have stage IV (severe) endometriosis so the pain is far worse than your stage I (mild) endometriosis!
False! Endometriosis is often classified as mild, moderate or severe, or as stage I-IV.These stages provide a useful guideline, however, they also have limitations, as the amount of endometriosis does not always correspond to the amount of pain and discomfort. A small amount of endometriosis can be more painful than severe endometriosis. It depends, largely, on where the endometriosis is actually growing inside the body.

8. I have endometriosis so I will never be able to have children
False! Endometriosis does not automatically mean you are infertile, although infertility can be a symptom of endometriosis. It is estimated that 30-40% of women with endometriosis are subfertile. Infertility is not always caused by endometriosis - it can be due to many other factors.

9. You have caused endometriosis by your lifestyle choices!
False! The actual cause of endometriosis is unknown. There are many theories including oestrogen production, retrograde menstruation, genetic predisposition, lymphatic or circulatory spread, immune dysfunction, metaplasia and even, environmental causes, but none fully explain why the condition occurs. It is possible that a combination of these factors could cause endometriosis to develop.

Abortion, wearing tampons, sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), psychological trauma in early life, douching, diet, lack of exercise, contraceptives, the colour of your skin and/or sexual promiscuity, do not cause endometriosis and there is no way of preventing the disease.

10. Endometriosis means I have cancer, right!?
False! Endometriosis is not an infection, it isn’t contagious, and it isn’t a cancer. However, every single benign tissue in our bodies has the potential to turn into cancer; therefore some argue that deposits of endometriosis could turn into cancer. This would be extremely rare though.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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